The Phoenix Flyer

Deputies seize 2004 Toyota and kayaks from 77-year-old Maggy Hurchalla in free speech case

By: - July 17, 2018 10:10 am
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Florida Immigrant Coalition

Sheriff’s deputies seized a 2004 Toyota and two aging kayaks from well-known South Florida environmentalist Maggy Hurchalla yesterday, she says.

The seizures are the latest in a dramatic legal battle that pits the 77-year-old Hurchalla against a billionaire who filed suit against her after she opposed his South Florida rock mining operation. Hurchalla is the sister of the late U.S.  Attorney General Janet Reno.

Hurchalla says she has been the victim of a SLAPP suit – which stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. She was sued by Lake Point Restoration, which is co-owned by billionaire George Lindemann, Jr. Hurchalla found herself on the losing end of a $4.4 million judgment in February, which she is appealing.

In an email, Hurchalla said a sheriff’s deputy approached her after she left a deposition related to her legal appeal and demanded her car keys.

“I told him that if he could let us drive home I could save him having to tow it and I could show him where two kayaks that Lake Point wished to seize were stored.  The 14-year-old and 19-year-old kayaks are the only property I own except for the Toyota.

The deputy answered that I could ‘deal later’ with how to get me home, but I needed to give him the keys immediately or he would have the car towed.  ‘We have an order and we have found the car here so we must remove it now,’ he said.

I suggested it would be easier to take everything together from our home since that’s where the order said the car and the kayaks were located and I could show him which kayaks he wanted. He refused and said they were presently at my house removing the kayaks.

When I did get a ride home the ancient kayaks were gone and court papers were stuffed in the screen door.

There is something very childish about thinking that if they take away my car and my toys I will burst into tears and stop defending the First Amendment.

The car and the kayaks can be replaced. The First Amendment cannot.”






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Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman

Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.